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“Priscilla” is more than an accurate bio of Elvis Presley’s very young wife; it is the story of a very young woman getting everything she could possibly want that turns out to be not what she wants; and it is the story of young girls confronting a teen idol, and losing themselves in their adolescent longings.

Writer and director Sofia Coppola gives quiet life to Priscilla Presley’s novel, Elvis and Me, by accompanying her during those years when at 14 she met Elvis, married him a few years later, and then left him after he had left her so many times for work and, as the tabloids reported, Ann-Margret and Nancy Sinatra. Coppola’s strength is that she might as well be talking about any girls, like my sisters, who were mesmerized by the king.


No scenes with The Colonel, no Elvis songs, and no screaming as their marriage deteriorates. We do, however, have multiple scenes of the couple taking excessive drugs that will eventually, we know, be the downfall of Elvis.


As Coppola did with Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, and Marie Antoinette, she goes inside young women to ferret out their anxieties and their dreams. As with Lost’s Scarlett Johanssen, Priscilla can’t be charged with gross immaturity; rather their journey is toward a better understanding of those occurrences.

The sound track, non-Elvis, culls from 60’s and 70’s hits like Venus, Crimson and Clover, and I Will Always Love You (sung by composer Dolly Parton=just right). Coppola seems to say that without Elvis’s music we should be able better to understand the complexity of the naïve couple.


Director: Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation)

Screenplay: Coppola, Sandra Harmon, based on Priscilla Presley’s Elvis and Me)

Cast: Cailee Spaeny (Little Mermaid Jr), Jacob Elordi The Kissing Booth)

Run Time: 1h 53m

Rating: R

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and hosts Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take out of WCBE 90.5 FM. Contact him at

John DeSando holds a BA from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in English from The University of Arizona. He served several universities as a professor, dean, and academic vice president. He has been producing and broadcasting as a film critic on It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics for more than two decades. DeSando received the Los Angeles Press Club's first-place honors for national entertainment journalism.